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15 October 2014
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My grandads diary: With the Royal Signals in North West Europe 1944

by njotterspoor

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Edwin Elliott
Location of story: 
From France, Caen To Holland Eindhoven
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 February 2004

Hello my name is Nicola Otterspoor. I was born and live in Holland. My granddad and mum are English . A couple of years ago we found the dairy my granddads wrote in de war. It is written in pensile, because it has faded it is difficult to read. We managed to read most of it but we’re still working on it trying to fill in bits we can’t read. Unfortunately my granddad past away yesterday, the 20th of February 2004. I saw him last in December and tried to get some information about his time on the continent but he could hardly remember anything.

He went trough France to Belgium and ended in Holland near Eindhoven.

His rank sgmn
He was with the signals

This is how his dairy starts.
June 22nd

Today was our D-day, or at least we thought it was. We left our marshally area near Laindon and boarded a liberty ship at Tilbury.

(He landed on the coast near Caen and was stuck there because movement was restricted due to lack of liberated area.)

Here is a day from his dairy.

Aug 27th

We went back to the pocket again today, what a ride. But the enthusiasm of the population is good to see, waving and cheering al the way along. We went right into the killing ground and I never wish to see anything like it again.
The smell of decaying bodies was overpowering. The spot in question was a narrow country which at One time would have been pretty.
We stopped the liner, and clambered out. Just to the right of us lay a German huddled up on the bank and on the opposite side of the road lay another with his leg blown off. Horses were everywhere. In the hedges and on the banks, some ripped open and others with their heads and limbs missing. Jerry must've used a lot of horse transport, some horses where lying in the shafts, those which had died in agony had kicked and thrown the little carts over. I wouldn't have seen this happening for a million pound, the screaming must have been terrible.
Further the lane lay five Germans face downwards pointing the same way. Two with riffles clutched in their hands.
It was a horrible sight. Death always is, and pathetic to cause. All around the truck are littered the personal belongings of their owners, letters, photos of small children, girls and mothers, family groups and weddings.
The German can't be much different to us.
My mother was born on the 8th of October when here dad was in Holland.
Later on in live she marries my dad from Holland and their second child, me, was born in Eindhoven where my granddad had spend some time. My sister, third grandchild, was born in Hapert a village near Eindhoven. In a way it seems like it had to be.

Sentences from his dairy.

On October the 12th I learnt I was the father of a baby girl

I'm quite enjoying this stay near Eindhoven

When I finish copying his diary it would be great to put it on this site for everyone to read. Reading it gave us a better understanding of how my granddad became who he was. This way our granddad whom we all love very much will never be forgotten. Not that we ever will forget him.


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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Your Grandad

Posted on: 21 February 2004 by jbrady80

Nicola, reading your Grandads diary extracts has brought tears to my eyes. In the face of fear he has used such beautiful words to describe a terrible situation. Thankyou for sharing it with everybody espically me. It just seems a shame that these people have to leave us.I always believe that each and everyone of those that made any contribution to helping during the war should be treated as hero`s everyday of their lives to which WE OWE SO MUCH.
John A Brady (Hook, Hampshire)


Message 2 - Your Grandad

Posted on: 21 February 2004 by Steve Wright


Thank you for sharing the extracts so soon after your Grandfather's death. I hope you'll be able to read more of it and share those sections on this website.

Steve Wright


Message 3 - Your Grandad

Posted on: 23 February 2004 by njotterspoor

Dear John,

I was very suprised to have a response so quick. It is great to hear that you feel the same way about the way my granddad wrote as we do.
He was a very special man to be able to think of the enemy as normal people. Nobody should go through the things he and others in de war did. It scared him for live. Thank you for your response, it did all of us well


Message 4 - Your Grandad

Posted on: 23 February 2004 by njotterspoor

Dear steve,

Thank you for your response. Working on my Granddads diary is a comfort to me as I can not be in England to be with my relatives until the funaral.
I'll put more of his diary on this website as soon as I can.



Message 5 - Your Grandad

Posted on: 23 February 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Nicola

I too found your contribution very moving. We rarely get prime sources like this, and your grandfather was very observant.

Many thanks,


Sgmn, by the way, is an abbreviation for Signalman.


Message 6 - Your Grandad

Posted on: 05 May 2005 by Paul Loften

Your grandads diary was a very accurate desciption of what happened . My father gave me a very similar description. It is quite possible they knew one another as my dad was also a Royal Corp of signalman stationed in Eindhoven and made some friends there at the time who we still have some photos of. I shall have to look through his old platoon photos to see if your grandads name is there. I have posted an account under the title My father who sent the signal that the war was over from Lunenburg Heath. I hope that you can find it. I would like to read some more of his diary so if you have any more please post.
London UK

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